BFM Again

     Fortune was with me today, I got on the schedule yet again for a BFM hop, this time with ‘Scooter.’  He wanted to work on his one-circle fights (Drat! There went my plan to play the fiendish MIL-power two-circle bandit!).  He graciously offered to give me a blue engagement, though.  I accepted (who wants to be a MIL-power-only bandit all day?). 

     The flight started like every other, with a mass briefing, a flight briefing, step, start, taxi, takeoff, departure, FENCE-check, and a G-warm-up.  We got situated for our first high-aspect pass from a butterfly setup with me as the Red fighter.  We called ‘Turn in, fight’s on!’ and pointed noses at each other to get started.

     Scooter began a turn towards me, and I turned the same cardinal direction as he did to start the one-circle fight.  After 180o of turn we were pointing at one another again.  He left his power out of AB a little too long, so he only ended up with a 30-knot advantage at that pass (as we learned in the debrief).  We passed close aboard with him slightly low, so we continued our turns in the same direction.  In the debrief when we drew it up, the circles were overlaid, which I haven’t seen before, usually a one-circle fight ends up going rougly the same direction once it starts and looks like overlapping sine waves.  Anyway, I tightened up my the turn a bit, he kept his turn going, and we met fairly neutral but with a good horizontal separation.  Given the turning room, I couldn’t resist, so I started a lead turn across his tail for a two-circle fight and increased my bank to 120o or so to use some vertical down to maintain what energy I had.  The two-circle fight lasted about another turn and a half before we approached the floor.  I transitioned back to level turning flight, and since he had use of his afterburner and we were at lower altitude where the mighty GE F110-129 engine works really well, he raced around and got on my tail.  I allowed one missile shot (two were required to call a kill), then clamped, or tightened my turn to try to force a) the imaginary missile to overshoot, and b) Scooter to overshoot.  It worked a little bit, but most importantly, it dropped me below our agreed-upon 200 knot minimum airspeed at the floor, so I called terminate over the radio.  Scooter acknowledged the terminate, then we dumped our noses, picked up fighting airspeed again, and climbed back up to 18,000 feet for the next fight.

     We set the next fight up same as before, starting from a butterfly setup.  After the ‘Turn in, fight’s on’ call, we pointed at one another and as we approached the merge, I began a lead turn slightly early to try to entice him to go two-circle against me.  It sort of worked.  He initially turned into me, but nearly immediately afterward he rolled out and began climbing straight up.  If you go vertical, you stand a decent chance of the other guy losing sight of you if he looks back in the cockpit to check his airspeed or something (thank you, Mr JHMCS inventor. . . no need to look back in the cockpit for such things!).  It’s a truism, lose sight, lose the fight.  In any case, I watched him go vertical, and even if you see it, you still have to react correctly, otherwise the bandito can get to a spot where he can put his lift vector at your six o’clock, and that makes the fight that much tougher.  When I saw that, I pulled for all I was worth (I got 8+ Gs) and after 180o of turn, I actually felt nearly offensive, so rather than go drastically uphill, I decided to try to enter his turn circle.  This would have worked really well except for one thing:  He climbed up into the sun! I momentarily lost sight of him, so I called ‘Blind’ on the radio.  He came back with ‘Continue,’ which meant he still saw me and we could keep fighting.  In retrospect, if I’d immediately gone more uphill and floated the turn at 6G for a second or so, I would have kept him out of the sun.  On the other hand, we would have passed high-aspect and the whole fight would have taken longer.  After about 3 seconds, he appeared out of the sun, passing directly above me.  Perfect! Well, maybe more lucky than perfect, if I hadn’t caught sight of him, who knows where he could have gotten?! In any case, once I saw him again, I pulled everything the jet would give me (about 7G that time), and ended up draining away nearly all my airspeed going over the top.  Lucky for me, I was the Blue fighter, so I had afterburner available.  Not so for Scooter! He had little choice but to point his nose way down in order to get his airspeed back.  I just gently nudged my nervous stallion degree by degree until my nose was pointed slightly downhill, and the engine boosted by generous quantities of JP8 did the rest for me.  I put my nose in his direction, got a radar lock from just over a mile behind him at his 7 o’clock, and simulated shooting two AIM-120s at him.  Score one for Blue!

     We terminated that fight with both of us near bingo fuel.  We didn’t lose any altitude to speak of on that fight, so we immediately set up a 3K’ perch set, just for the sake of doing something useful.  After that, both of us were bingo, so we ‘safed’ up our switches and rocketed on home.

     Everything else after that was, as we say, standard!

     The squadron is starting to put up two external wing tanks, which means we’re going to start doing more intercepts, SEAD, and air-to-ground training.  The past couple months of BFM have been a lot of fun.  Hopefully we’ll get to do plenty of ACT, which is my second-favorite.  Still, with two wing tanks, we can’t usually pull more than 7G, so "max-performing" the jet won’t be as strenuous.  On the other hand, we’ll be getting more flight hours. 

     Me defensive 3K. . . stupid left-turning engagements!

This entry was posted in F-16 Operations, USAF. Bookmark the permalink.